A 2013 Florida Department of Health (FDOH) study has shown that the “upgrade” septic systems that claim high nitrogen reduction have only averaged 33% nitrogen reduction here in Florida. A 2018 FDOH study has shown that Florida conventional septic systems will reduce 50% nitrogen. FDOH’s study on the upgrade septic systems shows that after installation their nitrogen reduction averages 17% less than a conventional septic system. How is this protecting the springs?
If by chance the upgrade systems hit their reduction number of 65% reduction there is only an estimated 3 lbs. difference between a conventional septic system at 50% reduction, 11.5 lbs. and the upgrade system at 65%+ reduction, 14.72 lbs. So, if by some miracle the upgrade systems hit the claimed 65% nitrogen mark it’s only a 3 lbs. gain to upgrade from a conventional septic system at a cost of $7,500 per pound.
Why are the upgrade systems performing so poorly? It’s actually quite simple, it is not because they are not capable of high nitrogen reduction, it’s because they are high maintenance equipment and because of this “at individual homes do not perform as well as expected, especially for nitrogen removal". These systems by rule require; a permit renewal fee ($75 yr.), maintenance contract ($150-$300 yr., not including parts), an annual inspection by FDOH, and two service visits a year. With all this, they still only averaged 33% nitrogen reduction.
In our environmentally sensitive springs areas we are going to force home owners to install “advanced” septic systems that have proven not to perform any better than the septic system it replaces, at costs of hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s not a secret that the advanced septic systems approved for the environmentally sensitive areas have had a difficult time delivering the nitrogen reductions claimed. The results are mostly due to costly maintenance programs, the homeowner’s inability to afford the maintenance and upkeep, expensive repairs, permit renewal fees and the flawed, inadequate and mismanaged administration of the rules and regulations, but none of this matters because we need to save these areas and a bad plan is better than no plan! The BMAP “advanced” septic system replacement plan will most likely increase their nitrogen by 17%.
"Experience in the Florida Keys and elsewhere suggest that systems of this type at individual homes do not perform as well as expected, especially for nitrogen removal" (2006 A Review of Nitrogen Loading and Treatment Performance Recommendations for Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (OWTS) in the Wekiva Study Area,” by Damann L. Anderson, P.E., of Hazen and Sawyer, P.C.,). STUDIES #2
“A comparison of median influent and effluent concentrations from systems found; 33 percent removal for total nitrogen (TN), and nearly no removal for total phosphorus (TP)" (2013 - Florida Department of Health Assessment of Water Quality Protection by Advanced Onsite Sewage Treatment and Disposal Systems: Performance, Management, Monitoring) STUDIES #1
The BMAP “advanced” septic system replacement plan will most likely increase nitrogen by 17%.